The Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor has secured a $19.7 million expansion of its infrastructure that will increase cargo handling capacity and multimodal capabilities.
A new 2.3-acre cargo terminal with multimodal connections for handling cargo transfers between ships, barges, rail cars and trucks will help the port manage higher ship traffic after it increased by nearly 20% for the first nine months of 2017.
US Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao approved the grant as one of the 10 FASTLANE small project grants for 2017 that aim to start rebuilding critical infrastructure across the US.
In August, Secretary Chao informed the US Congress that the Department of Transportation was recommending approval of a $9.85 million discretionary grant for the port.
After a 60-day review period, the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works approved all the projects.
A Rail expansion will also take place with 4.4 miles added to the port’s existing 14-mile rail network.
Two new rail yards will create rail storage for 165 rail cars, accommodate a 90-car unit train and ensure rail car switching can take place within the port to improve operating efficiencies for port companies.
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Improvements to the west dock, including extending a retaining wall and paving a dock apron, will result in an additional 1,200 feet of usable dock space.
The project scope also includes a new six-acre truck marshaling yard that will relieve congestion along port roads.
Nearly 2.6 million tons of cargo was handled by Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor in 2016, completing the highest three-year total in the port’s history.
Total shipments were also up nearly 11%, compared to the same time period last year.
The Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor opened in 1970 and serves the largest steel-producing region in North America. Major cargoes handled by the port include steel, coal, limestone, fertilizer and grain.
U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly, who wrote a letter of support for the Ports of Indiana application, said: “I was proud to support the Ports of Indiana application because this major federal grant will allow Burns Harbor to move forward with an expanded, increasingly-efficient operation.
“I’m looking forward to seeing these upgrades in action because we know it will bring more economic opportunities to the region and our state.”
Rich Cooper, Ports of Indiana CEO, said: “With these investments, companies using water to move cargo will have new options for their inbound raw materials, outbound finished products and transferring shipments between ships and barges, rail cars and trucks.
“Strategic investments in port infrastructure produce a foundation for long-term growth, bring a positive economic impact to the area and support trade throughout the state.”